Photo: Me at 17 with my buddy, the armed robber, dust patient bisexual, martial arts expert from Hollis, Queens
It was the early 1980s in NYC, around the birth of hip hop and these rehabs (TCs) were a world of prison culture, living in Bronx tenements, sleeping with one eye open, 125th Street in Harlem, Pitkin Avenue in East New York, Brooklyn, dusties detoxing on cranberry juice, the cooker, razor blades in mouths, Nicky Barnes, fresh waves, Five Percenters, Mighty Whiteys from Queens, speedballs, the hole stroll, spades, playing the corner slap boxing, wild like reform school, excessively rigid as a skinner box mixed with super Orwellian behaviorism (forced to constantly inform on each other to staff) — all to treat us misfits, gangstas and burnouts in army jackets and work-boots messing with girls with roach clip feather earrings who were made to wear stocking caps if they broke a rule.
Entire generations of kids and adults went through these places (for maybe 4 decades) and it still goes on in some places today. And not to hype this story, but what went on in these places has never been really told and I read everything on TCs (therapeutic communities) I could find.
It’s worth reading this article and knowing what happened to so many of us; all the abuse justified because it would stop us from smoking weed.
Published on the media site The Big Roundtable